Faces In The Crowd

EVERY TOWN has its characters. Some sip coffee in the same spot each day, chatting and laughing as the fog swirls outside the window. Others walk — and walk — as if driven by a purpose we can’t comprehend. And then there are those just doing their job, day after day, but with a spark that ignites a smile from everyone who passes by.
This is the story of Morris Hogg. For 36 years, he’s been ringing up groceries — 29 of them in Montclair at Lucky and now Albertson’s. He’ll be retiring in the fall, and reader Yvonne Byron thought it would be fun to interview him for this column. Here’s what she wrote:
Morris was born and raised in Oakland. He graduated from Castlemont High and went two years to the College of Alameda.
Things have not always been easy for Morris. His wife died five years ago of cancer and he has had two strokes (thankfully, he has totally recovered). Through all this, he never seemed to lose his cheerfulness. “It takes a lot to make me mad,” he says.
Morris has met a lot of luminaries at the store — author Maya Angelou, actor Denzel Washington and sports figures too numerous to mention. He has enjoyed working in this community, getting to know customers and trading recipes. But he’s looking forward to fishing in the Delta, playing Dominoes, visiting his time-share in Las Vegas and, of course, spending more time with his three daughters and five grandkids.
Why did Yvonne take the time to talk with Morris for this column?
“It takes a village to make a pleasant life,” she said, “and he’s been part of my life.”
Next time you’re shopping — wish Morris well.

E-MAIL BAG: Speaking of retirement, reader Dan Melvin says a popular Montclair AC Transit driver is about to retire.
“Tom has been driving the 59/59A line for the past several years and, prior to that, drove the 64 line (which used to connect the Cal campus with the Merritt College campus). He is one of the most personable, professional and courteous drivers I’ve met in my 35 years of riding buses on the AC system, and — most remarkably — he is on schedule 98 percent of the time!”

VOICE-MAIL BAG: A flurry of phone calls and e-mails has come in since my column on the weed-covered lot next to the Skyline fire station. The city reacted with lightning speed (yes, it’s true!) after it was brought to the attention of Councilwoman Jean Quan’s office.
Now readers want to know when other problems will be fixed.
“The fire hydrants on Skyline between Joaquin Miller and Ascot are completely engulfed in weeds,” said one caller.
Jeanine Fetterly said the sign at Swainland and Broadway Terrace is on the wrong side of the road and hidden by a tree.
Kathryn Sawyer wrote that there are many city-owned properties with high weeds, including a lot at Colton and Arrowhead. And Charles Bret said there’s a blind curve at Broadway Terrace and Capricorn where a stop sign is needed. In response, I’ve forwarded these complaints on to Quan’s staff and will let you know what I hear.

MANY APOLOGIES: When writing recently about the Joaquin Miller Elementary School T-shirt collection that was made into a quilt, I mistakenly spelled the creator’s name wrong. Congratulations again to Carolyn Heywood and happy retirement!


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